The Cronut Sammy a/k/a Eggs Cronutdict
I had purposefully not been paying much attention to all the hype as I thought it was another food trend that a bunch of bakers were trying out, and figured I’d eventually be able to order it off a dessert menu in the Lower East Side sometime soon.
But cronut hysteria kept mounting, and by this past weekend, I finally realized through Google that cronuts only come from one source — Dominique Ansel, former pastry chef for Daniel, where I’ve had many solo meals on a whim, as well as my 30th birthday dinner lo those many years ago — and that people were getting in line at 6am and waiting two hours to get their hands on them.
No, I would not just luck into a cronut over supper.
What pushed me to set my alarm for an ungodly hour? When I read that Dominique had switched from a rosewater glaze and vanilla cream cronut to one with a lemon-maple filling. Because then I knew what sammy I had to make.
(The cronut is under there, trust.)
I immediately thought of an Eggs Cronutdict (or a Cronut Benedict, which looks less tortured): lemon-maple hollandaise with fresh tarragon, jambon royale instead of Canadian bacon and a poached egg. Click here for the sauce recipe.
Yes, it would be sweet — perhaps overly sweet, as cronuts have been called “sugar bombs” — but the ham and the seasoned egg would help with that.
So I got up at 4:40am yesterday, hopped a train downtown and lined up at 5:40am under the bakery awning at 189 Spring St. in Soho. It was supposed to rain and thunderstorm around 6am, so brought my rain jacket and a garbage bag to sit on.
First in line, yay.
Just two minutes later, a man named Andy from Dubai walked under the awning.
“I’m flying back today, and I was told not to come back if I didn’t have cronuts with me,” he said.
Soon after, an intern from The Chew lined up, followed by a woman planning to surprise her friend with cronuts for his birthday (what an excellent friend!), and an Associated Press reporter. We bonded over the waiting in the yuck weather, the unhappiness of a 3-cronut-max per person, and our reasons for ruining a perfectly good morning of sleep, only occasionally retreating to our phones.
Even with the soreness that comes with sitting on cement for 2+ hours, the time went by pretty quickly. I thought about starting a sidewalk yoga class for the daily cronut crowds. I also game-planned what else I was going to buy — canelés (tiny, fluted custardy cakes with a burnt sugar outer layer) and DKAs, i.e. Dominique’s kouign amanns (sweet, moist, sugar crystalled croissant-like treats) — since the place had a 27 Zagat rating for food even before the dawn of “pastry devil spawn,” as the husband of one of my former colleagues calls the hybrids.
Thanks to my early start, not only was I dry and under an awning, during the last 15 minutes I was comfortably seated with my fellow pre-7am-ers, because a couple employees brought out a bench while setting up for the morning. Meanwhile, the other 45-50 people waiting in line for the store to open were shuffling under their umbrellas.
At 8am, I had a goofy grin on as Chef Dominique welcomed the first 20 or so of us in.
“It’s a two-cronut max,” said a woman behind the counter.
Only two cronuts?? Aieee. Alas, I wouldn’t be able to sample the cronut as is. It sure was tempting, though:
I popped a canelé in my mouth on the way home — it was custardy and lovely but waaay too sweet to start off my day. And I’m someone who will drink maple syrup straight from those airplane-sized bottles.
Back home in my kitchen, I wanted to keep the integrity of the cronut and play up the lemon-maple flavor, so I made the sauce using Tyler Florence‘s hollandaise recipe as a guideline. The main difference was that I had to add way more lemon and Vermont maple syrup instead of seasoning with cayenne. (Btw, here’s a shout-out to Cupcake Project, for letting the world know that a sweet hollandaise sauce on a sugary treat could be tasty.)
I pulled the cronuts in halves and scraped out the lemon-maple filling and set it aside to incorporate with the lemon-maple tarragon hollandaise.
The 2 cronut max killed my plans to make true sandwiches with the top and bottom cronut halves. Open-faced was the way to go. Thanks to the cronut’s croissant-y flaky layers, I was able to pull apart each easily into 3 segments:
As I finished hard-poaching the eggs so they’d travel more easily, I heard a couple of my neighbors in the hallway. I rushed to open my door.
“Hi! Have you two heard about the cronut craze?” I said, probably wild-eyed and definitely randomly, to Joshua, a concert pianist, and his wife, a fellow Filipina whose name is escaping me because I met her for the first time an hour earlier.
“No,” said Joshua. “What are they?”
I filled them in quickly, and hastily assembled a cronut sandwich — a slice of jambon royale, then a hard-poached egg ladled with lemon-maple-tarragon sauce — for them to try.
“Sarap!” said my new Filipina friend, saying the Tagalog word for “yum!” with a serious look on her face. “It’s so delicious!”
“That’s fantastic,” said Joshua. “The bread or what you called it — a cronut? — is really wonderful in that.”
I tried a couple bites of my own too, and was surprised at how much the buttery, sugary outer layer of the cronut gave the sandwich a nice caramelized crisp.
Yay! Off to midtown to drop off some more to some of my former People colleagues. Each of the sammy parts — cronut layer with ham, poached eggs, lemon-maple sauce — went in different lidded containers.
“I’m going to eat this upstairs,” said Allison, author of the fabulous book, Smart Chefs Stay Slim, with recipes and stories from the world’s best chefs such as Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson and Michelle Bernstein, all folks who have given me Sandwich Surprise inspiration.
Testing the sauce out with her finger, Tatsha said, “That sauce is really good.”
“I don’t usually like hollandaise, so I’m glad you added the extra lemon, because it’s delicious,” said Liza. “The acidity cuts the richness of the sauce, and the cronut stays crispy underneath.”
“What she said!” said Carlos.
I loved the sweet crisp/savory lemon maple-y combo so much that when I got home for dinner later, I couldn’t believe there were no cronuts left. Sadness!
Silently mourning the end of my cronut stash, I made a fresh sammy using half of a kouign amann.
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7/8 stick of unsalted butter, melted
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T. chopped fresh tarragon
4 egg yolks
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Cream scraped from the inside of two lemon-maple cronuts
Fill a sauce pot with 1 inch of water and bring to a simmer.
Mix the butter, juice of 1 lemon and tarragon in a bowl, and set aside.
In the meantime, whisk the yolks and 1 tablespoon of juice in a stainless steel bowl bigger than the width of the sauce pot vigorously until it thickens noticeably and increases in volume.
Once it does, rest the bowl on the sauce pot and keep whisking as before. If the egg starts lumping up or cooking too much on the side of the bowl, reduce the oven temp and/or with a oven mitt, lift the bowl off the pot. Pour in the melted butter-juice of 1 lemon-tarragon mixture in slowly and keep whisking.
I added the juice of 1 lemon to echo and bolster the lemon-maple filling of the cronut. But I sure paid for it with the whisking time, because the extra liquid meant it took about 15 minutes to get it to that recognizably hollandaise-y consistency where it would hold its shape a little bit.
To poach the eggs, I followed Chef Tyler’s instructions, though I ended up filling my skillet 2/3 of the way with water so the tops of the eggs could cook evenly too.